Travis Hair talks about the Coyotes, the fans, and snakes

YotesFans.jpgTravis Hair, the managing editor of Five For Howling, has lived
through the frustration of being a Phoenix Coyotes fan. He’s been a
devout fan through it all, and I know just how much he suffered through
all the troubles last summer. He seemingly took it personally, as his
team was fought over in court and nearly every pundit wrote how the team
should ultimately be moved.

Amid all this uncertainty was a
team that was in desperate need of
guidance, and a fan base that felt abandoned. The team had been mediocre
for too long in an environment where hockey can certainly struggle, and
when the issues surrounding the ownership of the franchise erupted the
fans were left out in the cold.

Now, after the first playoff
hockey game in Arizona since 2002, everything has turned completely
around. The Coyotes are the feel good story of the season, the fans are
back in rabid fashion and the Throw The Snake campaign has put Travis
and Five For Howling on the map. As the Coyotes get more and more
attention, so has Travis and his great blog.

Pro Hockey Talk was
able to chat with Travis about this past season, the great hockey game
in Glendale last night, and his experiences since become famous in the
hockey world.

As the hockey world embraces the Coyotes, Travis
says he’s not that surprised.

“Who doesn’t root for the CInderella
or the underdog?”  Those are the best of
sports stories,” Travis tells Pro Hockey Talk. “Who doesn’t hate the
Wings that isn’t a WIngs fan?”

“The
bigger surprise is the support from teams in the playoffs. Hawks fans,
Sharks
fans, Preds too. They’re cheering for us too.”

The Coyotes won a
big game against the Red Wings last night, as raucous fans turned a
hockey arena in Arizona into one of the most electrifying atmospheres in
all of hockey. Travis says that atmosphere was building outside the
arena before the game ever started.

“There were wranglers with white
coyotes on harnesses
walking around out front. Just cool.
There were tons of painted up fans, fans wearing capes, fans cheering
outside
before they ever got in. People were mostly in their seats early because
they
didn’t want to miss a moment.”

It was certainly a bit unexpected,
even with the hype the team had started to get leading into the
playoffs. Travis, however, says that this has been building for most of
the season. As far as the team goes, he says he knew they might be onto
something special well before then.

“I’d be lying if I said I knew
it was going to be this
special,” he says. “But the first clue I had was early in the year when
we went to
Pittsburgh and shutout the Penguins. It’s just one game, but anytime you
can do
something like that to the defending champs it gives you confidence in
your
team.”

What’s been truly special to witness is how a simple joke
on Twitter turned into an all-out campaign for solidarity among Coyotes
fans. The Throw The Snake movement has been embraced all around hockey,
and has put Travis and his blog on the map.

Travis says that
while there were “10 to 12” snakes that ended up on the ice, the arena
officials didn’t seem all that concerned with stopping it.

“One of
my friends was wearing a “Throw the snake” shirt [availiable on Five
for
howling] and the security people were like ‘What’s that mean?’ He had to
explain
it.

“Heck, some people got some octopi into the arena.”

As
the Throw The Snake movement gained traction, Travis has been sought out
by the media to provide his thoughts on the Coyotes, the fans and
hockey. He’s talked to Yahoo!’s Puck Daddy blog, appeared on local
radio, and had his blog mentioned on Hockey Night in Canada as well as
on iDesk on the CBC.

It’s some surprising instant fame for Travis, who considers
himself just a simple blogger. It’s all been a bit unexpected.

“Though
I run a blog on one of the biggest and well run networks around, I’m
just
a blogger.”

“I don’t even know where to
go from here. I’m just a hockey fan and had this random Throw The Snake
and the
team take off. I’m excicited about where this goes and also just stunned
by the
sudden attention.”

If there’s one blogger and one website that
deserve the attention, it’s Travis and Five For Howling. He’s toiled
through some tough times and now it’s paying off as his site sky
rockets.

The team has been pushing their “Whiteout 2010” campaign,
and Five For Howling has followed suit. It’s something that has
certainly worked for this team and these fans.

“Everyone was cheering, booing, oohing, Everyone
was high-fiving everyone. It was just
amazing.”
“Talk about how we shouldn’t do the whiteout if you
want,
but it was electric.”

You can follow Travis on Twitter at twitter.com/TravisHair.

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    Hitchcock believes Blues’ Allen is ‘locked up mentally’

    NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 08: Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes the third period save against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on December 8, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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    Things were already rough for the St. Louis Blues and their goalies (particularly still-pretty-newly crowned No. 1 Jake Allen) heading into Thursday, but the Washington Capitals really highlighted those issues in a 7-3 thrashing.

    Blues fans and management must be wondering, then: what’s wrong with their goalies, especially with Allen? Head coach Ken Hitchcock seems resigned to allowing him to fight through it, if nothing else.

    “There’s a lot going on right now. … He’s kind of locked up mentally and he’s going to have to fight through this,” Hitchock said, according to Lou Korac of NHL.com. “What we see at practice, we like. That’s why we put him in quite frankly.”

    Alex Pietrangelo did the typical deflecting thing, nothing that this is a “team” and that there are “no individuals.”

    Still, Hitchcock’s longer press conference makes you wonder how much trust there is in Allen and Carter Hutton.

    From Hitch’s perspective, it sure sounds like he believes that the Blues are over-correcting to try to limit “goals, shots.” By trying to do too much, they might be putting themselves in bad positions. And that might stem from a lack of confidence in the guys in net, or in the team’s work in their own zone overall.

    Let’s be honest. As much as we can play chicken-or-the-egg as far as a defense’s impact on a goalie, it’s tough to explain away save percentages under .900 in the modern NHL. At some point, your team needs more stops.

    With the races for the lower spots in the Western Conference’s playoff picture seemingly tightening up, the Blues don’t have a ton of time to figure this out.

    Capitals shine glaring light on Blues’ goalie woes

    ST LOUIS, MO - MAY 23:  Jake Allen #34 of the St. Louis Blues makes a save during the first period against the San Jose Sharks in Game Five of the Western Conference Final during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Scottrade Center on May 23, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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    If you’re reaction to the headline “Something is off about the St. Louis Blues” was “Yeah, their goaltending,” then Thursday only emboldened that opinion.

    It wasn’t just that the Washington Capitals bombarded the Blues by a score of 7-3. It’s that they really didn’t need to fire a whole lot of shots on goal to get to seven.

    Here’s a harsh rule of thumb: when both of your goalies play in a game and each one barely makes more saves than goals allowed, that’s an awful night. Take a look at what Jake Allen and Carter Hutton went through:

    Allen: six saves, four goals allowed in 25:11 time on ice
    Hutton: five saves, three goals allowed in 35:49

    Allen got pulled from the contest twice, by the way. He’s been pulled from four games since Dec. 30. Woof.

    Even before these horrendous performances, the Blues goalies have been shaky. Hutton came into tonight with an ugly .898 save percentage; Allen wasn’t much better with a .900 mark.

    Those are the type of numbers that would make Dallas Stars fans cringe, or at least experience some uncomfortable familiarity.

    Now, is it all on Hutton and Allen? Much like with the Stars’ embattled goalies, much of the struggles probably come down to a team struggling in front of them.

    Even so, if you assign more of the blame to Allen and Hutton, nights like this Capitals thrashing definitely strengthen your argument. Yikes.

    Rangers overwhelm Leafs, make life pretty easy for Lundqvist in win

    TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 19:  Henrik Lundqvist #30 of the New York Rangers faces a shot in the warm-up prior to play against the Toronto Maple Leafs in an NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on January 19, 2017 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)
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    Heading into Thursday, many were wondering how the New York Rangers will handle Henrik Lundqvist‘s struggles. Instead, the focus shifted to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ difficulties, perhaps specifically in dealing with Morgan Rielly‘s absence.

    The Rangers handily won this one 5-2, at least giving Lundqvist the win. He wasn’t especially busy, stopping 23 out of 25 shots, so you can probably file his story under “To be continued.”

    Lundqvist wasn’t oblivious to his team’s impressive overall play.

    Really, it was all about the waves of attackers the Rangers can send at opponents and the trouble that caused for the Maple Leafs. It wasn’t the easiest night for Frank Corrado, in particular, who took a couple costly penalties.

    The Rangers’ next two games come in a road contest vs. the Red Wings on Sunday and a home game against the Kings on Monday. Perhaps those matches will serve as a better barometer for where Lundqvist’s really at, as he passed tonight’s test … but it wasn’t a particularly difficult one.

    So, is Mike Condon actually really good? He certainly was against Columbus

    OTTAWA, ON - JANUARY 8: Mike Condon #1 of the Ottawa Senators stands at the bench during a break in a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Canadian Tire Centre on January 8, 2017 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Jana Chytilova/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images) *** Local Caption ***
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    Considering their numbers heading in, many were perplexed when the Ottawa Senators essentially replaced Andrew Hammond with Mike Condon. Now many are perplexed by just how strong Condon’s often been for Ottawa.

    Thursday might stand as the prime example that this guy could be better than many expected.

    The Columbus Blue Jackets dominated much of the play, generating a 42-28 shots on goal advantage, but Ottawa ended up winning 2-0 tonight.

    Condon already came into tonight with a solid save percentage (.915 before this shutout), and he’s now won four of his last five games. Three of his four career shutouts have come this season.

    Ignoring his one relief appearance with Pittsburgh this season for the sake of simplicity, just consider his tough times with Montreal last season. He went 21-25-6 with a shaky .903 save percentage.

    This marks just his 21st start and 23rd appearance of this season, so it’s not a guaranteee for future results. Still … it’s another example that goalies are as just about as unpredictable as they are crucial to a team’s fate.

    More and more, it seems like Condon might just be a difference-maker, and in the positive sense this time around.